SAY NO TO SMOKING! SAY YES TO EXERCISE!
Contributed by: Patricia Spensieri
Are you hoping to quit smoking? Trying to manage your cravings? On your next break why not try something new… Let’s go exercise!!
Studies have shown that participating in regular exercise can lead to positive outcomes in smoking cessation. Exercise is known to reduce many of the negative experiences and symptoms that occur when trying to quit, such as cravings, withdrawal symptoms, negative mood states, and weight gain. Exercise also has the ability to positively influence factors such as perceived ability to cope and self-esteem, which aids in the protection against initiation of, or return to smoking. Many individuals turn to smoking during moments of anxiety, stress, depression, poor sleep patterns, as well as low self-esteem. What many people aren’t aware of is that daily exercise can have a more positive, long-term impact on depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, and cognitive functioning, than smoking.
How does exercise work you may ask? During exercise, you are increasing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the reward and pleasure signals of the brain, thus, stimulating the Central Nervous System. This process is similar to the effects of smoking on the neurological processes of the brain, but it’s much better for you! Not only does exercise help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, evidence also indicates that exercise has the ability to reduce post-smoking cessation weight gain and reducing craving of sweet foods during the beginning stages of smoking abstinence. Weight loss usually occurs in smokers due to the active properties of nicotine, which have the working ability to suppress a smoker’s hunger, alongside the reward and pleasure signals of the brain. Therefore, once an individual quits smoking and the nicotine is out of their system, the brain turns towards food as a reward. Participating in daily exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight and develop strength to fight against the urges of overeating to mask the feeling of withdrawal symptoms as well as craving during your smoking cessation journey. Studies have shown that participating in cardiovascular type exercises has had an acute effect on reducing both psychological withdrawal symptoms as well as the desire to smoke.
Exercise guidelines: Starting with short bouts, starting at 15 min and progressing to 30-60 minutes of light to moderate exercise, such as:
It is important to slowly progress to higher intensities for your overall safety and wellbeing. You do not need to be working at the same intensity as those around you, work to your own limit. Compete against yourself!
So friends, let’s put down those cigarettes, and let’s get moving!!!